Wed, 31 May 2023

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], March 25 (ANI): Janata Dal Secular (JDS) leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy called on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on Friday.

Kumaraswamy met Banerjee at her residence in Kolkata's Kalighat.

"Met Honourable West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkota and held talks. Earlier in the day, she extended a warm reception. We discussed forthcoming Karnataka Assembly elections, the success of Pancha Ratna Yatra and national political developments," tweeted Kumaraswamy.

The former Karanataka CM said the Trinamool supremo discussed about working together with JDS in national politics.

"West Bengal Chief Minister said that she will visit Karnataka to campaign for Janata Dal Secular besides discussing the need for both All India Trinamool Congress and JDS to work together at the national level," he added.

Assembly elections in Karnataka are scheduled in the coming months.

The meeting between the two leaders assumed significance amid efforts by leaders of several opposition parties to forge a united opposition alliance to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Notably, Mamata's meeting with Kumaraswamy comes a day after the West Bengal CM called on her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.

During the meeting with Patnaik, Mamata reasserted the need to strengthen India's federal structure and ensure accountability at all levels of government, said Trinamool Congress.

Meanwhile, Opposition leaders condemned Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's disqualification as MP.

"It is not a surprise because everyone knows how the central government is behaving," Kumaraswamy told reporters in Kolkata.

Taking to Twitter, Mamata Banerjee said, "In PM Modi's New India, Opposition leaders have become the prime target of BJP! While BJP leaders with criminal antecedents are inducted into the cabinet, Opposition leaders are disqualified for their speeches. Today, we have witnessed a new low for our constitutional democracy."Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from Lok Sabha on Friday, a day after his conviction by a Surat court in criminal defamation case, triggered a massive political row with the BJP stating that Congress leader was "a habitual loose cannon" and the Congress alleging that he was got "deliberately disqualified".

Opposition leaders slammed the government after the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi from Lok Sabha and the Congress said it will launch a people's moment on the issue.

While Congress leaders including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and party chief Mallikarjun Kharge rallied behind Rahul Gandhi, opposition leaders including Mamata Banerjee, K Chandrashekar Rao, MK Stalin, Hemant Soren, Arvind Kejiwal, Sharad Yadav, Uddhav Thackeray and Akhilesh Yadav attacked the BJP-led government.

Congress welcomed the support of opposition leaders and said the task of building opposition unity should be taken up in a systematic way. It expressed confidence of legal relief in the case. The party held a meeting in the evening, which was attended by party chief Mallikarjun Kharge and Sonia Gandhi, to chalk out next course of action.

Leaders of Left parties, Janata Dal-Secular also attacked the government. Some of them called it a "black day" for Indian democracy. Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur, who held a joint press conference with Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, alleged that Rahul Gandhi considers himself above parliament, government, judicial system and country.

He said Rahul should probe "conspiracy" within Congress to oust him.Thakur said Rahul Gandhi is on bail in seven cases and had rendered an apology in the past.

Attacking the Modi government, AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said those who want to "destroy the nation" should stay in the BJP while those who want to "save the nation" from ruin must leave.

"Never before in the history of India was there a PM, who is just a 12th pass. He can't run the country and lets his ego guide his actions. I urge all BJP leaders to consider leaving the party as the country is being destroyed under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Those who want the nation destroyed can stay with the BJP while those who want to save it from ruin must leave," Kejriwal said.

Bharat Rashtra Samithi chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, said it was a black day in the history of Indian democracy.

Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav, who has kept his distance from Congress after their failed tie-up in 2017 assembly polls, also slammed the government.

"The political challenge does not end with the hijacking of one's membership of Parliament. The biggest movement is not the one in Parliament. We have to win this fight on the streets. The person who moved court claiming defamation should level a similar charge at people, who betrayed their country and fled abroad," Akhilesh Yadav tweeted in Hindi.

DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin called for an urgent relook at the action taken against Rahul Gandhi.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the decision to disqualify Rahul was taken in "haste" and is "yet another episode in BJP's authoritarian rampage against Indian democracy"."This brazen assault is an insult to our democratic values and can't be overlooked. It must be unequivocally denounced," Vijayan tweeted.

NCP leader Sharad Pawar said opposition leaders need to stand together to defend our democratic institutions.

"Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from Parliament is the height of Narendra Modi's arrogance and dictatorship. This is not the time for conflicts between parties. All democrats should openly condemn the misdeeds of the BJP government to safeguard the democracy and constitutional values of the country," he said. (ANI)

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